Telefonica on why customers need to be the ‘control their own data’ as it unveils Aura AI push

Telefonica launches digital personal assistant tool named Aura

Telefonica is seeking to put its customers in the driving seat as far as their data is concerned with the release of a new digital personal assistant called Aura.

The artificial intelligence powered app aims to give customers control of their own data by empowering individuals to make the call as to whether or not to share data with third parties such as Google or Facebook.

In addition the new app, referred to by Telefonica as its ‘brain’ can respond to queries relating to Telefonica services and manage access to customers Wi-Fi routers. This is facilitated through compatibility with Amazon’s Echo speaker and is the culmination of a €48bn investment programme over the past five years to transform the business into a digital platform.

Launching the new system at Mobile World Congress chief executive Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, said: “It's a new way of empowering customers, We are offering that the network belongs to them. Now people can no longer call us a dumb pipe.”

He explained how Aura is “much more” than an ssistant that would effectively allow it to pool all its customer data in one place for users to access their own personal information. “What if we could develop a new relationship with our customers with this technology by using it to give control of the network back to them,” Alvarez-Pallete said about Telefonica’s ambitions for what other industry observers have dubbed the ‘Me2B’ economy.

"We were not born digital. We were analog. The digitising of this company is difficult as we need to radically digitise legacy systems," he continued. "We need to add another dimension to our company. We need to become a platform company."

Anyone wishing to get their hands on the new app Spain, Germany or the UK will be able to do so over the next 12 months.

Additional reporting by John McCarthy.

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